U.S. citizens who've plotted terror in America

Police cruisers guard where a car bomb had been parked in Times Square in May 2010.

Story highlights

  • An Iranian-American has been accused of plotting a terror attack to occur in the U.S.
  • Numerous other U.S. citizens have been accused of plotting attacks
  • They include a former sailor, National Guard soldier and a Chicago gang member
This week the U.S. Justice Department accused an Iranian-American, who allegedly has ties to Iran's elite Quds Force, of attempting to hire a man he thought was a Mexican cartel hitman to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Some question the plausibility of the circumstances that prosecutors have described involving Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old used-car salesman from Texas.
The alleged plot, if proven, would be but one of several terror schemes hatched by American citizens that were intended to occur on U.S. soil but were not carried out. Here are a few of those:
Iyman Faris
In 2002, Pakistani-American Iyman Faris worked as a truck driver in Columbus, Ohio. He was convicted of providing material support to al Qaeda for his role in a plot to attack the Brooklyn Bridge.
WikiLeaks documents released this spring reveal more details about Faris' role in the war on terror. Faris pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda and was sentenced in October 2003 to 20 years in prison. He's now behind bars in Florence, Ohio.
Ryan Anderson
In September 2004, then-26-year-old Ryan Anderson, a U.S. citizen and member of the Washington National Guard, was convicted of passing military information to American agents posing as al Qaeda operatives.
Anderson, a convert to Islam, was arrested earlier that year at Fort Lewis, Washington. According to the News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, which covered Anderson's story extensively, military prosecutors contended that Anderson had "grown disgusted" with what he viewed as "the moral decay" of America, and that Anderson disagreed with the war in Iraq. He was also upset that his Guard unit was being deployed.
Kevin James
In 2005, authorities announced that they had foiled a plot, concocted in a California prison, to use proceeds from gas station robberies to carry out terror attacks. Planned targets included military recruitment centers, synagogues and the Israeli consulate. Kevin James pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy to levy war against the government of the United States through terrorism, and to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government.
The danger of Islamic radicalization inside American prisons is "real and present," Rep. Peter King, R-New York, said in June during a controversial hearing on the subject. King is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. King weighed in on the alleged plot revealed this week, telling CNN that evidence in the case against Arbabsia is strong.
Jose Padilla
Perhaps the most well-known American citizen convicted of plotting against the U.S. in the war on terror is Jose Padilla. In June 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft said that the former Chicago gang member, who had converted to Islam, had been detained at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. At that time, Padilla was accused of plotting with al Qaeda to explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States.
Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was found guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism.
Three years later, a new indictment against Padilla was filed but made no mention of a dirty bomb. On August 16, 2007, Padilla and two co-defendants, Adham Hassoun and Kifan Jayyousi, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in a foreign country, conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists, and providing material support for terrorists.
In 2008, Padilla was sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison. Hassoun was also sentenced to 15 years and eight months and Jayyousi to 12 years and eight months. In September 2011, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Padilla's 17-year sentence is too lenient.
Paul Hall
In April 2009, an American citizen born Paul Hall -- aka Hassan Abu-Jihaad -- was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In March of 2007, the former Navy sailor aboard the USS Benfold was arrested and charged with providing information to a London-based group called Azzam Publications in 2001 regarding the classified movements of his U.S. Navy battle group as it traveled from California to the Persian Gulf region.
Azzam operated English-language jihadi Web sites. In March 2008, jurors in New Haven, Connecticut, convicted Hall of providing material support to terrorists and disclosing classified national defense information.
Faisal Shahzad
In October 2010, after a New York judge sentenced a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen to life in prison for trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, Faisal Shahzad warned the court, "Brace yourself. The war with Muslims has just begun." Shahzad had an MBA and was at one point a financial analyst. He was living in Connecticut.
Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square.
On May 1, 2010, Shazad parked a vehicle in Times Square rigged with an explosive device that did not go off. Street vendors tipped off police to the abandoned car. He was caught aboard a flight about to depart from New York en route to Dubai. He allegedly confessed to the plot.